By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
In an effort to provide “greater transparency in taxation and keep taxpayers informed of King County’s work,” King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn recently introduced a motion that will task the King County Assessor’s Office to provide all property owners with a detailed assessment of how King County is spending their tax dollars.
Currently, King County provides a property tax bill, including information about how those taxes are allocated, to the people who pay their taxes directly to the county. Conversely, half the people who own property taxes pay their taxes through mortgage lenders and lenders never receive a property tax bill from King County. According to Dunn, this legislation, if approved, would fix this gap in communication.
“I believe it is very important that every taxpayer in King County be able to see and appreciate where their tax dollars are being spent by their various levels of government,” says Dunn. “It is important for every taxpayer to have transparency to see where their tax dollars are being spent so that they can hold their government accountable for the choices that are made and understand the priorities that are being funded.”
If the legislation is approved, all property taxpayers will receive a letter or postcard that will contain information on how their monies were allocated to local taxing districts such as the city, county, state, emergency medical services, fire districts, schools and many others.
“I feel optimistic about this coming to fruition,” says Dunn. “My office partnered with King County Assessor John Author Wilson on this particular transparency legislation. The important thing is the people are more engaged with their government.”
King County Assessor John Wilson says that property owners can access a Taxpayer Transparency Tool on their website that provides details on how the new legislation will work, which includes instructions on how to access their property tax distribution information, but says this new legislation will further enhance transparency and access to this information.
“I support greater transparency in property taxes,” says Wilson. “This is why I introduced my Taxpayer Transparency Tool on our website in 2018. Our website has a breakdown of where your tax dollars are distributed, and what various property tax ballot measures will potentially cost. But not every taxpayer in King County is aware of the site and therefore gets this information.”
The legislation will be referred to the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee for further consideration.